Answer

by Brad Gerke

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about

I’m very surprised that this record finally exists and that I am proud of it. What often happens is you put out a record and hate it. All you hear are the things wrong with it. So this time I did all I could to rewrite the songs, record things properly, and make a record correctly. I hope I remain proud of it. I hope you enjoy it.

So what is this record about? It is the first in a series of three related to my time in law school. The songs themselves aren’t necessarily about law or studies, but they are the songs I wrote during this period of my life, and I have sorted them into approximate years. All of them take their name from a legal term.

An “Answer” is your response when someone sues you. You are served a complaint, and then you have a certain number of days to respond with an answer (I don’t remember how many days, because I wasn’t a very good law student). So I found this to be an appropriate term for this record. I have entered into a conflict of sorts with myself. I feel that my life has been in a holding pattern for the last three years, and I’m unsure of how to return to pursuing my passion. This is my attempt to answer myself and keep myself moving towards the future I would rather have. But as it happens, you never really find the answer, thus the burning documents on this record’s cover.

There is also a callback to my previous record, “Where there’s Smoke there’s Fire,” a record I released under a pseudonym. The cover for that album was a rather boring picture I took of smoke in my backyard when my dad made a bonfire. That was the smoke, the cover of this record features fire. That being said, I consider this my first record. In high school I made a record under my real name, but I don’t claim ownership of it now because a) it is not very good and b) it was made by an entirely different human being, a child in fact. I hope this is a sufficient first effort as I try to start anew.

In brief explanation of the songs: “Waiting” was an experiment in writing a folk song with personal lyrics. I had always written folk songs about trains and other stereotypical subjects with which I was unfamiliar, but this time I actually tapped into a real emotion and wrote about the feeling of waiting for everything to work out. “She’s Listening” was a stitching together of two song ideas I had years ago, before I realized these two concepts were the same song. I attempted to emulate soul and the styles of music that the song references, and I feel that I have never written anything like it before. “Bluebirds” is a song I wrote two years before law school began, rather extemporaneously before my sister’s 20th birthday. In the subsequent years the song came to mean more to me and I rewrote some of the verses, updating it for this record. “Godspeed” was based on a news clip I saw in the CNN 60s documentary discussing the space race, in which they said “Godspeed, John Glenn.” I was struck by the sense of achievement in reaching space, but the isolation that must occur in a literal vacuum. “Certainty” was written on my first trip to Nashville, right before I went to Third Man Records. It was specifically intended to be recorded in the record booth, but unfortunately that record did not turn out well, so I’ve re-recorded it here. “Wildfire” was written in a Facebook Live video to share with people how I write songs, and has gone through many instrumental permutations. “Automation” was a simple song written during one of my many days of drudgery in my first year. “When the Gavel’s Coming Down” was written as a Southern Rock song, and I believe it has retained some of that spirit. “Turnaround” was written years ago, but I lacked the skills to record it myself. It was one of my first transitions from writing stereotypical folk songs to writing ones with actual personal significance. And finally, “Leaving” was written quietly in my bedroom, trying to avoid detection of my constant guitar playing. I think it sets up where the following record in this series will venture next, and starts to depart from the more entrenched folk style of this record.

And now, many thanks are in order: First, to my parents for their constant support through what has been the most difficult years of my life. To my sister for being my best friend and joining me in a musical partnership for our band Gerkey. To my friends, the “lunch bunch,” for being the best part of this whole process (particular thanks to Katie Phillips for tolerating the recording of this record in our house and to Gabe Justus for lending me his bass in the long term). To Rachel Gerald and her support of me during my time in law school. To the Rook and Pawn and all the people there for being a haven and providing the best job I’ve ever had. To the UGA MBUS program for teaching me how to do most of this several years ago. To Tyler Key for being the first person to tell me I was a good songwriter and always inviting me to share a bill. To all of my bandmates from Summer Sonics, what a long time ago that was. To Bryant at the Caledonia Lounge for giving me and my various bands a place to play for the last seven years. To Jeffrey Vernon for his support and skill as the best drumming guitarist around. To Ian Morrison for his input and dependability as a bassist.

credits

released November 16, 2018

When I was younger and less able to quell my narcissism, I would list every instrument and repeatedly credit myself as having played them. This time I will keep it simple:
I played the instruments on this record. I also mixed it, with help from Tyler Key and Ian Morrison. This record was mastered by Ian Morrison.

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Brad Gerke Athens, Georgia

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Track Name: Waiting
What you want ain't the same as what I got
You think I'm patient darling, but I'm telling you I'm not
I'm tired of standing here waiting on you
Staring at my watch

I'm old enough to know that nothing's gonna change
You can't force a man to let go of his pain
Darling I've tried
You can't make me feel a thing

Maybe some day I'll finally find a way
To let go of this heartbreak
And put some wisdom in its place

But for now I'm waiting, feel like I'm angry all the time
Giving into the noise, don't hear no signal in my mind
I know it's in there somewhere
But I ain't seen a single sign

I wish I had exactly what you want
I could hear what you're saying and not try to take control
But if I keep pushing you away
I won't have to let you go
Track Name: She's Listening
I bet you that she's listening
To Etta James or Otis Redding
I bet you she knows every word

She hears the kick and the cymbal hits
And taps them with her fingertips
Just like every song she's ever heard

And she doesn't worry what's on anyone else's mind
No she doesn't know what I'd say if she only gave a sign
I'd say

I know you still think about me
I know you're dreaming about how we used to be

I remember running 'round this town
Without a single care to weigh us down
Back before it all just disappeared

We used to dance and sing along
And she'd know the words to every song
So now her voice is all I can hear

I wish I could go back to another place and time
Back when I knew there was still something in her eyes
And I'd say

I know you still think about me
I know you're dreaming about how we used ot be

Is this what Otis meant when he said his arms were burning?
Won't you tell me Etta, does she got a hold of something?
Don't try to lie to me darling cause there ain't no denying
I ain't the only one who's done his share of crying

I hope you still think about me
I hope you're dreaming about how we used to be
Track Name: Bluebirds
Sunshine take me back home
Sunshine there's so much that I don't know
Sunshine I'm up to no good
Sunshine I ain't been living the way I should

Feels like I stare up at the sky
I think that I'm just passing time until I die

Well them bluebirds sing
But they don't know a thing
Them bluebirds have only seen the sun
Them bluebirds sing
But they don't know a thing
Them bluebirds had better learn to run
Before they lose their wings

Sunshine carry me back
Sunshine make up for these things I lack
Sunshine you're making me blind
Sunshine I'll meet you on the other side

Can't kill this pain no matter what I try
I guess it just won't go away until I die

Well them bluebirds sing
But they don't know a thing
Them bluebirds have only seen the sun
Them bluebirds sing
But they don't know a thing
Them bluebirds had better learn to run
Before they lose their wings
Track Name: Godspeed
Will you look down on me?
'Cause I'd understand it if you would
Do you know what's surrounding me?
Would you change it if you could

'Cause I swear this world is gonna blow itself up
Any day now

Won't you tell me what it's like
To go somewhere I can't see
Do you feel the most alive when you know that you can't breathe
Tell me what it's like
To know what you believe
Do you find you hear the most where they can't hear you scream
Oh no, I don't know why we have to scream

Do you feel cold and empty?
'Cause I expect you should
When you're the one and only
And you didn't think it'd be this good

'Cause I just want to cut myself loose
And float away now

Won't you tell me what it's like
To go somewhere I can't see
Do you feel the most alive when you know that you can't breathe
Tell me what it's like
To know what you believe
Do you find you hear the most where they can't hear you scream
Oh no, I don't know why we have to scream

We all say godspeed
You're living out our dreams
Track Name: Automation
I suppose I haven't done enough suffering
But not for lack of trying
I've spent a whole lot of time out searching
But there wasn't anything to find

And I'm pretty damn sure I'm wasting my time
Spiraling down, no end in sight

But the gears will keep turning and the wheels will still spin
I'll try to close my eyes and then I'll open them again
We'll follow all the blueprints and watch the machines
Till you can't tell the difference between them and me

I've spent so much time just thinking
Frozen, too afraid to move
And I've traveled far and wide, I've seen everything
I think I'm still just looking for you

It's a damn shame that much is true
I never really know just what it is I'm going to do

But the gears will keep turning and the wheels will still spin
I'll try to close my eyes and then I'll open them again
We'll follow all the blueprints and watch the machines
Till you can't tell the difference between them and me

Time crawls on but races back
Nothing is ever built to last
Track Name: Wildfire
You and I will drive everyone away
We'll try to shine a light
But we'll lead ourselves astray

The rain will find the river
But we'll go our separate ways
And after I've grown bitter
I'll wish I knew how to pray

But the sun won't rise today
And I'll be left without a name

You and I are gonna spread like wildfire
Let the wind carry the embers higher
The smoke will rise, but we'll be no the wiser
Everything's burning down but it's alright

Look outside, can't you see the haze?
There's something here that you and I
Aren't brave enough to say

And often I still wonder
What makes us so afraid
As the current pulls us under
We won't scream to be saved

And we won't live to see another day
And we'll never even share our names

You and I are gonna spread like wildfire
Let the wind carry the embers higher
The smoke will rise, but we'll be no the wiser
Everything's burning down but it's alright
Track Name: Gavel
Maybe all my problems would just vanish
If I never said a word
All these awful things I've said
You never would have heard

Maybe we could just be strangers
Ships passing in the night
I would have finally found the answers
I might have finally got it right

And spared us all this pain until another time
And we would have found our place

I'm holding out hope I'll know where to go
When the gavel's coming down
Cause no one but me is ever looking to see
If anybody else is around
I know I was wrong but I wasn't alone
When we crashed into the ground
Enough time's been wasted loosing everything
So it's time that something's found

I thought I'd put it all together
But I was only getting worse
I was only digging deeper
Building a temple for my hurt

I ignored all the warnings
And I cut down all the signs
Until I was just a shadow
And disappeared with the night

I tried to run away and leave this town behind
But somehow I just stayed

I'm holding out hope I'll know where to go
When the gavel's coming down
Cause no one but me is ever looking to see
If anybody else is around
I know I was wrong but I wasn't alone
When we crashed into the ground
Enough time's been wasted loosing everything
So it's time that something's found

Our days they are so few
So why should I have wasted mine on you
When all of this is through
There's a judgement coming soon
Track Name: Certainty
If I was a gambler I'd be the riches man around
But I'm too afraid of losing you to lay my money down
If i was a burglar I'd sneak into your house
And I wouldn't take a single thing as long as you're around

And I'm learning what I'm worth
Is about the same as what I deserve
And that's not very much

The river and the sea know just where they're supposed to be
Won't you share a little bit of your certainty
All these things I'm running for
I just can't take it anymore
Could be a crisis, but maybe I'm just bored
Yeah maybe I'm just bored

If I was a traveler I wouldn't make a sound
My feet would just keep moving til they never touch the ground
If I was a wanderer I'd never know where I'm bound
I'd just keep moving off my chosen path and never would be found

The river and the sea know just where they're supposed to be
Won't you share a little bit of your certainty
All these things I'm running for
I just can't take it anymore
Could be a crisis, but maybe I'm just bored
Yeah maybe I'm just bored
Track Name: Turnaround
Today I hung up the telephone
Grabbed a knife, and cut the line
There ain't nothing good coming out of it
And I don't want to waste anymore time
Lord, I can't stand that ringing
I said it's making me lose my mind

Today I got in my automobile
Turned the key, and put it in gear
I don't know where I'm going but
I've gotta get myself outta here
Well if maybe I drive about 500 miles
I might start to see things clear

Today I put up my pistol
Put the safety on, through out the magazine
There ain't nothing I need to be shooting at
And god knows it'd end up being me
Lord I don't need no weapon
To defend the things that I believe

Today I looked in the mirror
i didn't recognize the face
I thought that I'd be smiling
But something else was in the way
Lord I left town and changed my name
But here I am right back in this same place
Track Name: Leaving
I know that I'm not welcome here
But I might as well hang around
And if I can just keep quiet
No one's gonna know I'm hiding out

I thought that I'd be stronger
And brave enough to speak
But I'm only growing silent
While my ears learn how to bleed

I'm not righteous
I'm alone
I am leaving
This ain't my home
I'm a coward
A bird that's flown
I am leaving
This ain't my home

I thought that I'd be faster
and leave this all behind
But it's all catching up with me
And I think there's nowhere left to hide

Every word is repetition
But at least redundancy is cheap
I thought I'd be putting myself back together
But instead I'm ripping at the seams

I'm not righteous
I'm alone
I am leaving
This ain't my home
I'm a coward
A bird that's flown
I am leaving
This ain't my home
This ain't my home
I have no home

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